Bruno Pagano

Researcher of Medicinal Chemistry

Name Bruno
Surname Pagano
Institution University of Naples – Federico II
Address Department of Pharmacy, University of Naples "Federico II", Via D. Montesano 49, 80131, Naples, Italy
Bruno Pagano


  • Identification of novel interactors of human telomeric G-quadruplex DNA.

    Publication Date: 18/02/2015 on Chemical communications (Cambridge, England)
    by Pagano B, Margarucci L, Zizza P, Amato J, Iaccarino N, Cassiano C, Salvati E, Novellino E, Biroccio A, Casapullo A, Randazzo A
    DOI: 10.1039/c4cc07231f

    A chemoproteomic-driven approach was used to investigate the interaction network between human telomeric G-quadruplex DNA and nuclear proteins. We identified novel G-quadruplex binding partners, able to recognize these DNA structures at chromosome ends, suggesting a possible, and so far unknown, role of these proteins in telomere functions.

  • Shading the TRF2 recruiting function: a new horizon in drug development.

    Publication Date: 03/12/2014 on Journal of the American Chemical Society
    by Di Maro S, Zizza P, Salvati E, De Luca V, Capasso C, Fotticchia I, Pagano B, Marinelli L, Gilson E, Novellino E, Cosconati S, Biroccio A
    DOI: 10.1021/ja5080773

    The shelterin protein TRF2 has come to the limelight for its role in telomere maintenance and tumorigenesis. Herein, the application of rational design and synthesis allowed identifying the first TRF2TRFH binder able to elicit a marked DNA damage response in cancer cells. This work paves the way for the unprecedented employment of a chemical tool to finely tune specific mechanisms underlying telomere maintenance.

  • Noncanonical DNA secondary structures as drug targets: the prospect of the i-motif.

    Publication Date: 01/09/2014 on ChemMedChem
    by Amato J, Iaccarino N, Randazzo A, Novellino E, Pagano B
    DOI: 10.1002/cmdc.201402153

    Under certain conditions, specific DNA sequences have the potential to adopt noncanonical secondary structures, such as i-motifs. Interestingly, these DNA stretches are not randomly located throughout the genome but rather frequently clustered in regulatory regions of oncogenes and in telomeres, the terminal regions of chromosomes. Recent evidences suggest that i-motif DNA structures exist in living cells and could be involved in a variety of biological processes, such as replication, regulation of oncogene expression, and telomere functions. Therefore, the targeting of i-motif DNA is an emerging research area in medicinal chemistry. Bringing these noncanonical structures into focus as targets for anticancer drug design and gene regulation processes could be crucial for a better understanding of their biological functions and to open the way to new, effective strategies for cancer treatment.

  • Bis-indole derivatives with antitumor activity turn out to be specific ligands of human telomeric G-quadruplex.

    Publication Date: 24/07/2014 on Frontiers in chemistry
    by Amato J, Iaccarino N, Pagano B, Morigi R, Locatelli A, Leoni A, Rambaldi M, Zizza P, Biroccio A, Novellino E, Randazzo A
    DOI: 10.3389/fchem.2014.00054

    Bis-indolinone derivatives having either 2,6-disubstituted pyridine core (1a and 1b) or 1,10-disubstituted phenanthroline core (2a and 2b), already known to have antitumor activity, have been tested as potential G-quadruplex binders. Compounds 2a and 2b are able to selectively stabilize G-quadruplex over duplex DNA, and also to discriminate among different G-quadruplex structures, having a particular affinity for the parallel form of the human telomeric G-quadruplex. Both compounds are also able to induce telomeric DNA damage that may explain the activity of these compounds.

  • G-quadruplex on oligo affinity support (G4-OAS): an easy affinity chromatography-based assay for the screening of G-quadruplex ligands.

    Publication Date: 06/05/2014 on Analytical chemistry
    by Musumeci D, Amato J, Randazzo A, Novellino E, Giancola C, Montesarchio D, Pagano B
    DOI: 10.1021/ac500444m

    A simple, cheap, and highly reproducible affinity chromatography-based method has been developed for the screening of G-quadruplex binders. The tested compounds were flowed through a polystyrene resin functionalized with an oligonucleotide able to form, in proper conditions, a G-quadruplex structure. Upon cation-induced control of the folding/unfolding processes of the immobilized G-quadruplex-forming sequence, small molecules specifically interacting with the oligonucleotide structure were first captured and then released depending on the used working solution. This protocol, first optimized for different kinds of known G-quadruplex ligands and then applied to a set of putative ligands, has allowed one to fully reuse the same functionalized resin batch, recycled for several tens of experiments without loss in efficiency and reproducibility.

  • Evidence for G-quadruplex in the promoter of vegfr-2 and its targeting to inhibit tumor angiogenesis.

    Publication Date: 01/03/2014 on Nucleic acids research
    by Salvati E, Zizza P, Rizzo A, Iachettini S, Cingolani C, D'Angelo C, Porru M, Randazzo A, Pagano B, Novellino E, Pisanu ME, Stoppacciaro A, Spinella F, Bagnato A, Gilson E, Leonetti C, Biroccio A
    DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkt1289

    Tumor angiogenesis is mainly mediated by vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a pro-angiogenic factor produced by cancer cells and active on the endothelium through the VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR-2). Here we identify a G-rich sequence within the proximal promoter region of vegfr-2, able to form an antiparallel G-quadruplex (G4) structure. This G4 structure can be efficiently stabilized by small molecules with the consequent inhibition of vegfr-2 expression. Functionally, the G4-mediated reduction of VEGFR-2 protein causes a switching off of signaling components that, converging on actin cytoskeleton, regulate the cellular events leading to endothelial cell proliferation, migration and differentiation. As a result of endothelial cell function impairment, angiogenic process is strongly inhibited by G4 ligands both in vitro and in vivo. Interestingly, the G4-mediated antiangiogenic effect seems to recapitulate that observed by using a specific interference RNA against vegfr-2, and it is strongly antagonized by overexpressing the vegfr-2 gene. In conclusion, we describe the evidence for the existence of G4 in the promoter of vegfr-2, whose expression and function can be markedly inhibited by G4 ligands, thereby revealing a new, and so far undescribed, way to block VEGFR-2 as target for anticancer therapy.

  • Exploring the chemical space of G-quadruplex binders: discovery of a novel chemotype targeting the human telomeric sequence.

    Publication Date: 12/12/2013 on Journal of medicinal chemistry
    by Di Leva FS, Zizza P, Cingolani C, D'Angelo C, Pagano B, Amato J, Salvati E, Sissi C, Pinato O, Marinelli L, Cavalli A, Cosconati S, Novellino E, Randazzo A, Biroccio A
    DOI: 10.1021/jm401185b

    Recent findings have unambiguously demonstrated that DNA G-rich sequences can adopt a G-quadruplex folding in living cells, thus further validating them as crucial targets for anticancer therapy. Herein, to identify new potent G4 binders as antitumor drug candidates, we have targeted a 24-nt G4-forming telomeric sequence employing a receptor-based virtual screening approach. Among the best candidates, in vitro binding experiments allowed identification of three novel G4 ligands. Among them, the best compound features an unprecedented binding selectivity for the human telomeric DNA G-quadruplex with no detectable binding for other G4-forming sequences present at different genomic sites. This behavior correlates with the detected ability to generate DNA damage response in tumor cells at the telomeric level and efficient antiproliferative effect on different tumor cell lines at low micromolar concentrations.

  • Fluorescence enhancement upon G-quadruplex folding: synthesis, structure, and biophysical characterization of a dansyl/cyclodextrin-tagged thrombin binding aptamer.

    Publication Date: 20/11/2013 on Bioconjugate chemistry
    by De Tito S, Morvan F, Meyer A, Vasseur JJ, Cummaro A, Petraccone L, Pagano B, Novellino E, Randazzo A, Giancola C, Montesarchio D
    DOI: 10.1021/bc400352s

    A novel fluorescent thrombin binding aptamer (TBA), conjugated with the environmentally sensitive dansyl probe at the 3'-end and a β-cyclodextrin residue at the 5'-end, has been efficiently synthesized exploiting Cu(I)-catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition procedures. Its conformation and stability in solution have been studied by an integrated approach, combining in-depth NMR, CD, fluorescence, and DSC studies. ITC measurements have allowed us to analyze in detail its interaction with human thrombin. All the collected data show that this bis-conjugated aptamer fully retains its G-quadruplex formation ability and thrombin recognition properties, with the terminal appendages only marginally interfering with the conformational behavior of TBA. Folding of this modified aptamer into the chairlike, antiparallel G-quadruplex structure, promoted by K(+) and/or thrombin binding, typical of TBA, is associated with a net fluorescence enhancement, due to encapsulation of dansyl, attached at the 3'-end, into the apolar cavity of the β-cyclodextrin at the 5'-end. Overall, the structural characterization of this novel, bis-conjugated TBA fully demonstrates its potential as a diagnostic tool for thrombin recognition, also providing a useful basis for the design of suitable aptamer-based devices for theranostic applications, allowing simultaneously both detection and inhibition or modulation of the thrombin activity.

  • Differential scanning calorimetry to investigate G-quadruplexes structural stability.

    Publication Date: 01/11/2013 on Methods (San Diego, Calif.)
    by Pagano B, Randazzo A, Fotticchia I, Novellino E, Petraccone L, Giancola C
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2013.02.018

    Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) is a straightforward methodology to characterize the energetics of thermally-induced transitions of DNA and other biological macromolecules. Therefore, DSC has been used to study the thermodynamic stability of several nucleic acids structures. G-quadruplexes are among the most important non-canonical nucleic acid architectures that are receiving great consideration. This article reports examples on the contribution of DSC to the knowledge of G-quadruplex structures. The selected case studies show the potential of this method in investigating the structure stability of G-quadruplex forming nucleic acids, and in providing information on their structural complexity. Indeed, DSC can determine thermodynamic parameters of G-quadruplex folding/unfolding processes, but it can also be useful to reveal the formation of multiple conformations or the presence of intermediate states along the unfolding pathway, and to evaluate the impact of chemical modifications on their structural stability. This article aims to show that DSC is an important complementary methodology to structural techniques, such as NMR and X-ray crystallography, in the study of G-quadruplex forming nucleic acids.

  • Application of "magnetic tongue" to the sensory evaluation of extra virgin olive oil.

    Publication Date: 15/10/2013 on Food chemistry
    by Lauri I, Pagano B, Malmendal A, Sacchi R, Novellino E, Randazzo A
    DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2012.10.135

    The perception of odour and flavour of foods is a complicated physiological and psychological process that cannot be explained by simple models. Unfortunately, taste is not objective, but partially subjective and it depends also on the mood of the taster. Generally, sensory analysis is used to describe sensory features. The availability of a number of instrumental techniques has opened up the possibility to calibrate the sensory perception. Here we have tested the potentiality of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy as "magnetic tongue" to measure sensory descriptors in extra-virgin olive oil. We were able to correlate the NMR metabolomic fingerprints of extra-virgin olive oil to the sensory descriptors: tomato, bitter, pungent, rosemary, artichoke, sweet, grassy and leaf.